Lilac Lawn Day Dress
Madeleine Vionnet, 1922
The Cecil Beaton Collection at:
The Victoria & Albert Museum
“Lawn,” a fabric with a fairly plain weave, in the 1920s was likely crafted of linen. These days, most lawn is made of cotton. Regardless, it’s a perfect fabric for a day dress—durable, light and fashionable.
Here, from 1922, we see a gown made of lilac lawn. With a V-neckline, short sleeves and it’s convenient ankle length, the dress would have been suitable for a day in the country or for attending a summer sporting event.
Belted at the waist, the dress is given a hint of springtime style by layered, overlapping scallops attached to a base of tulle. These petal-like scallops and the fresh color evoke an appealing idea of new flowers. This is reinforced by an appliqué motif on each petal which depicts a stylized flowering plant in a decorative pot.
The dress was made in Paris for the design house of Madeleine Vionnet (1876-1975). It was donated to London Society photographer Cecil Beaton to be part of the collection of modern clothing which he was assembling for the V&A in 1972.